Down there in sunny wingnutty Florida, a judge recently decided that Christian groups could “passively” distribute Bibles in public schools — that is, they could leave them on tables and allow students to pick them up. Mary Elizabeth Williams thinks that’s a bad idea, and I agree — it’s a decision that opens the door to “passive” proselytization.
The Central Florida Freethought Community decided to make a reasonable response, by passively distributing some literature of their own. And now Williams decides that atheists are just as obnoxious as Christians.
But after “1,700 students left school with Bibles” in the wake of one of those “passive” distributions in 11 schools last winter, the atheist groups decided to make a point. They asked for permission to distribute some materials of their own, including books and pamphlets with titles including “An X-Rated Book,” “Jesus Is Dead” and “Why I Am Not a Muslim.” Which if I’m not mistaken is a douche move.
Ms. Williams is mistaken. It is not a douche move. It is a responsible protest. Is the only protest that she won’t regard as a “douche move” one that is completely unobjectionable and does not annoy anyone in any way? Because that isn’t any kind of protest action at all.
And what’s so bad about these particular pamphlets and books? “An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible” is a biblical exegesis. Jesus Is Dead is Robert Price’s analysis of the historicity of Jesus; it’s a serious book that examines the sources and the myths. Why I Am Not a Muslim is Ibn Warraq’s call for human rights and rejection of the dogma of Islam.
In the light of a court decision that allows Christian groups to flood the schools with lies and nonsense, a secular group decides to offset that influence by providing honest scholarship and serious discussions of the issues within religion. What’s douchey or obnoxious about that? Did Williams just recite the titles expecting people to react emotionally with shock and horror because they’re obviously critical of faith? Has she read any of the books in question?
What’s really a douche move is for a columnist to blow the Jesus dog-whistle to get knee-jerk support for labeling atheists as “obnoxious”, without considering for an instant the substance of their arguments. Oh, no, they said “Jesus is dead,” they must be bad, bad people, and you must agree because they are giving kids rational reasons to turn away from faith. Oh dismay. Oh fretful dithering. Oh how dare they.
And I say, oh fuck Jesus and Mohammed and all those other frauds, and be grateful that atheists are being gentle and generous in their efforts to help educate children. Because those pious fanatics who oppose us won’t be generous in return.